12 months earlier
Est sat at the wood cafe, bar, hangout, coffee shop––place that was about something other than making money––though they nominally did that on the side. It was not about drugs, as some trolls would certainly claim, two sentences into the chapter. Some of the people smoked weed and hell, he was not adverse to a little kind.
Mary Jane was not legal here and he respected that. No high was worth police state paranoia and possible intervention. His thing was currently yoga, walks on the trail, and a bitter mixture of kratom and tea, once every three days.
The six varieties of live beer on tap were bracing, but then so was the kombucha they had 15 varieties of. As the proprietor had explained, some were green tea base, some English breakfast, some genmai cha. Add whatever fruits were predominately available, a little every day, like a chef carefully pinching herbs and tasting. This one was predominately Darjeeling/papaya/mangosteen and would go head to head with any fine wine in everything but the alcohol category. There was no signage, no price list. By sitting down you contributed and if you had not contributed enough, your time was up.
Mildly satisfied in a way that lasted, having reached some epiphany, he was not sure if he had that straight. But he was more sure that he had something now than he had ever been, since the dream of UC Santa Cruz and its state-enabled happy edifice came tumbling down upon the reality that all sojourns in the sun were temporary.
In yesterday’s distractified world, ruled by a feed-informed dark hole of Internet algorithms and Insta-mobs (fundamental user flaw he had identified 20 years ago), he was kept never quite sure of anything. The way that years of work could be devalued to less than free. Trollable. It no longer mattered, at least in this little beta corner of reality that fabric had changed and, he was confident, would continue to alter in ways in line with what people, and the earth, could afford.